The Issue Is: Abortion, inflation and other top midterm issues

This week on The Issue Is, the countdown to 2022 midterms continues.

First, Elex Michaelson is joined by Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee.

Their exclusive conversation during McDaniel’s campaign stop in Southern California, where she knocked on doors alongside Congresswoman Michelle Steel (R-Surfside). Steel is locked in a tight re-election race, one of many close races in Orange County, and the state of California, that could help determine the future of the House of Representatives.

McDaniel discusses that race, the RNC’s midterm investment in California, top midterm issues like abortion and inflation, and more.

Those key election issues are also on the docket when Michaelson sits down with Congressional candidate Will Rollins.

Democrat Rollins is an openly gay, former national security prosecutor. He’s challenging Republican Ken Calvert in California’s newly redrawn 41st district. That reliably red district is now up-for-grabs as it now contains Palm Springs, one of the most heavily LGBTQ areas in the country.

Beyond abortion and inflation, Rollins talks LGBTQ issues, the border crisis, his reason for running, and what it was like to work for former Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.


MCDANIEL’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think California has their law set and we've seen it, and Democrats are going to try and make that an issue in your state, even though it's codified in your state... Most voters are not waking up thinking about abortion, most voters every day are saying, 'can I fill my car with gas? Can I pay for groceries? Can I pay my electric bill? What's happening in my kids' school right now? Do I feel safe to get on the street?' These are huge issues… 

"California's Prop. 1 Is a little extreme, right? It's going til the end of of your term when a baby's due date is. I think most Americans do not think that that's the right course, that we shouldn't be having an abortion on your due date when that baby can live, and we know that. So, your law right now is, what, about six months viability, I think that Californians don't want to see that go to the ninth month…"

ROLLINS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "It's disingenuous of her to respond like that, because federal law means that it applies nationally. It means that it supersedes state law. It means that, even if California passes a Constitutional amendment, if Republicans take control of Congress and the White House, they can pass a national ban. And so, look, I worked in law enforcement, and I think that what the Republican Party needs to be telling voters is how are the mechanics of what they are proposing actually going to work? Are they going to send in FBI agents to search doctors offices? Are they going to have federal agents stop women at state lines who cross into another territory because they want to seek reproductive health care? These are legit questions that every voter should be asking as we head towards November 8th…"


ROLLINS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "I think Republicans should be honest about the causes of inflation. And in my district, I've got a guy [Rep. Ken Calvert] who claims that he's going to expand energy production and that he's going to repeal the state gas tax, over which he has absolutely no power whatsoever. And so, look, inflation is a problem, Democrats should lean in to responsibly solving it with intellectually honest solutions... Like making our markets more competitive when you have Shell post $9 billion in record quarterly profit with 20% profit margins and they're still able to charge us $6 a gallon at the tank, that's because only a handful of massive oil and gas corporations dominate the market. And so if you try to make the markets a little bit more competitive and give people room to actually have to cut into those margins, consumers and customers are going to see a benefit…"

MCDANIEL’S CENTRAL TAKE: "A big thing is energy independence. I mean, we know that Biden on day one got rid of the Keystone pipeline and stopped drilling on federal leased land, so, by expanding our energy independence, which, of course you use gas to do everything, right, heat your home, you're using it for every product that you transport across the country, so by getting those prices down, everything will cost less... Also getting people back to work, we have a huge issue with people not going back to work because of the Biden policies of paying people more to stay out of the workforce. So we need to make sure that we're doing those things and that will decrease inflation…"


MCDANIEL’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I think Gavin Newsom really likes himself and he wants the rest of the country to like him, too, so he's putting billboards and spending money in other states instead of alleviating the problems in [California]. You have the highest gas prices, I think, in the country, and I could be wrong on that, and you have a surplus, that came from federal dollars coming into your state, and you have people leaving California in droves. So maybe stop spending so much time worrying about Florida and maybe focus on the people of California…"


ROLLINS' CENTRAL TAKE: "He gave me my first job out of college. And I was a Democrat, but he was obviously a Republican Governor and I really respected his willingness to reach across the aisle and have a staff that often disagreed with each other in a way that was actually fun and people had a sense of humor. And I think he knew that he got good advice from those kinds of constructive disagreements from people on the left and the right. And he also had a vision for America that was optimistic and hopeful that he always talked about. And it was great being a young staff member, traveling with him around the country and the world even, in some cases, and seeing people respond to his vision for California and America - he had a really unique way to talk about it…"

The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to